Starlink - The Scoop From A Nomad

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Well-known member
Jul 24, 2020
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Maine USA
Good Day... This post exceeds the word limit of this forum and upon initial look-see, at this time this limit cannot be modified. So this very long post has to be split into sections. Please add you questions and comments.

(Part One of Two)
The Scoop On Starlink

Recently there has been some misleading information about using Starlink as a nomad. Let me help clear this up by relaying my experience over the last 7 months.

This time last year SL was still in Beta. You could pay $99 and get in line and pay homage to whatever deity you follow that you got your Kit in less than a year. When you were informed that your Kit was ready to ship you had three days to decide to have it shipped, and pay the balance of the Kit’s cost, or have your $99 refunded.

I paid my $99 last summer and was told that I could expect my Kit sometime late in the year. Then in Nov it shot out to mid-22, and then, on Dec 3, I got the word my Kit was ready to ship to me. I paid the $480 remaining balance and it showed up a few days later. My house was in the trees, but because the leaves were off for the winter, I was able to stick the antenna on a pole and got usable signal, but I did experience a lot of drops due to bad sight line to the north. This was not unexpected. I was getting into SL for being a nomad, not for this home that was soon to sell.

In late Jan 2022, the house does sell and I pack it all up in uHaul and head west. I got to Quartzsite by the end of the month and as anticipated, when I tried to “change my address” in the automated system that SL offers up, I would get “No Cell” or “No Room” messages. To explain, initially you could only use SL from a fixed location that was the address you had your SL Kit shipped to. SL created virtual cells all over the globe that were used to limit the number of people in any one area allowed to join the network. This was/is purely to limit users so they would not overload the ability and capacity of the satellite network. There was/is also some restrictions due to ground station systems abilities to receive signals from the satellites. Late in 2021 SL started deploying Sats that have laser communication systems that allow them to pass data to other Sats that have better connections to ground stations. So, back on subject…. I was in Q with my non-functioning SL setup. It made sense. Q is overrun with people in the winter and thus likely packed with SL users as well.

Since last fall, SL has launched several hundred more Sats. When I turned on back in Maine, there were around 1500 operational, and when I checked on this today there are just shy of 2000. When I was able to activate in late February by entering a valid address in Blyth(cough cough), there were around 1550 in operation. These numbers are important because despite an announcement last fall, that the network was out of Beta, it wasn’t. The grid was and is far from complete. As a result, holes in coverage do develop, and the farther south you are the larger those holes get do to the earth having a large diameter as you go south. How do I know all this? This web site. In this site you are able to see near-real-time data on the position and status of all of the SL satellites and the service history of each. What this all means is that there will be momentary drops in service on occasion. It also means that as more Sats are put up there, these holes will become smaller and it will not be long before it is a non-issue.

( image below from the web app mentioned above)
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(Part Two)

Back to actually using the Kit… As nomads, we find ourselves in all manner of terrain and location. The key to using SL effectively is a clear shot of the northern sky. When I was up in the Coconino NF at 8200’ in the Ponderosa Pines, even on the end of my 14’ pvc pipe, I was getting a lot of drops as I just did not have a good shot at the north. ( load the above link, zoom out, and watch how fast the Sats move. ) However I was still getting enough signal to stream vids with some pauses and get mail and other web stuff done. In any location where I have had clear skies the drops are infrequent enough that I didn’t even know they were happening. In the Kaibab south of the GC I had to use all 75’ of my cable and still had minor blockage. Herein in Colorado I have very few drops in service. I will be ordering the 150’ cable for next summer. In Q or any of the desert areas, I’ll just slap it up on the roof. Let me emphasize that trees and SL do not mix. In a few years when the network in complete, looking str8 up will be more effective as the network will be much denser.

Up until around April, if you powered up your Kit outside the cell you were assigned, it would just plain refuse to pass data, and you would get a message in the App that you were out of your assigned area. Then, without telling anyone, they turned that off. Prior to this you could cheat the system to some degree by using the App to change your address, as if you moved households to a new house or apt. I had found a few nomads that had done this in Canada, moving every two weeks to a new home address and made it from the east to west coast in this fashion. I had done this twice after leaving the Q area and it worked fine. When I heard they turned the switch on the roaming, I tried it and went to Pahrump, then Coconino, Kaibab, Apache NFs without changing anything.

Then service went from $99 a month to $110…. Sigh. That sucked.

Last month the other shoe dropped, and they offered Roaming Service for an additional $25 a month. I signed up immediately. This meant one could roam anywhere in the North American Continent. You will be a step down in priority to the fixed systems in the cell, but you will have service. This month SL is marketing an RV plan at $135 a month. I have not looked at the details, but suffice to say it is the Std plan with roaming added and a with a shiny new marketing wrapper. A few days ago I changed my permanent address to Q, and when I arrive in that area, I will be able to turn off roaming, reducing the monthly fee back down to $110. When the time comes to move out of the heat next spring, I turn it back on and my bill jumps up to $135 again.

I hear you now… “$135 a month you say!!! Why I only spend $xx a month and get all the data I want!” which is likely true.. and if this level of service works for you, all the better… saving money is a good thing and you do not need Starlink. But let us consider what people pay for and what they get, and then compare them.

But first, let’s take a look at Usage. I am a heavy data consumer. I can suck down hundreds of GBs a month. In the past two years leading up to this lifestyle, I noted other heavy users were carrying 2,3 and 4 cell plans in order to not run out of data or not get slowed to a crawl once exceeding limits. Since getting out on the road I have also met people that never use what they are allotted in their basic plan.

So then we can set a premise, and that is, if you are a heavy data user , you will be paying for it.

*Nomad Internet is $149 a month +$99 activation fee and you need a decent cell connection.
*Data on a cell phone plans from any of the major carriers will start to throttle at anywhere from 5 to 50GB and will cost around $35 to $75 a month.
*Starlink is $110 to $135 and month and will work anywhere.

Nomad is expensive and does not always work depending on location and how heavily that cell you are using is loaded. Major carrier plans will cost just as much for heavy data use if you have to have multiple plans in place to use it, and they do have bigger data plans, but all of them throttle as well. Starlink throttle outside your home area, but if throttling from SL means dropping from 150Mbps to 50Mbps, it isn’t the same thing as being throttled on a cell phone plan. The speeds are not comparable.

I am currently a bit west of the Denver area and will do a speed test right now… 43 down and 2 up with very high latency, meaning that the Sat I am connected to is far away. I will do it again in a few minutes and it will change. A couple of days ago it was 80 down and 6 up. The point is that I am roaming, in the middle of a forest, and my cell barely gets text msgs, and calls are sporadic. My Neighbor has a WeeBoost and does better and can stream at 480, but a Weeboost is $500 and is pointless too far out, or worse in Quartzsite in season. Ok Test two… 98 Mbps down and 12 Mbps up. Better, and it will fluctuate all over the place depending on how close a Sat is to me, what version of Sat it is ( laser or not) and how well connected to a ground station that Sat is. At this point, density is still an issue for SL and individual Sats will be heavily loaded on occasion until the network is denser. As I indicated earlier on, there have been 400 new sats put into service in the last 6 months and ( looks at the “up but not in service yet” Sats) there appear to be several hundred still moving into service positions. There is another launch June 17 and two more sched at this time for July.

Yes, Starlink is throttling when roaming outside your home area, but this isn’t the boogie man it is being made out to be. Cell plans throttle. Third party cell plans for data are also deprioritized, just like SL does when roaming.

In my experience, no one offers a service that can even begin to compete with what you get *IF* you are a heavy data user. I am a gamer, a YTer, a musician… I watch a crap ton of video from all manner of sources and suck up and put up many GB of data monthly. If you do not do this or do not consume data, then Starlink may be something you do not need, but if you suck up a couple hundred GB a month and more SL is a solid option. For anyone getting “way out there”, Starlink is the only feasible link to the Internet.

Power usage. The last time I checked (Apr 22) the Killawatt was showing idling around 30-35 watts, with spikes up to 70 watts. Start up is 70-110 watts but doesn’t last long. Snow melt mode is way more. I have never used it and have it turned off in the App.

Connections. As it comes, the only way to connect is wireless. For $39? You can get an inline widget that allows you to plug in a standard Ethernet cable. You can disable the SL router and use your own if you choose.

Customer Service. It can take 2 to 4 days to get a response. They can see and talk to your router and are able to tell you if there is blockage etc… There is no phone number for customer support or sales. It is email or nothing. They are inflexible at times and again, you will not get a fast response.

Data Service. It is as good as I had hoped it could be, and I say this knowing a bit about wireless and Internet. I started an ISP, and developed terrestrial wireless Internet. Because I know and understand the basics, I knew service would be spotty, especially at first. I have been surprised by the speed at which new Sats are going up and it is making a difference. The holes in service are smaller and shorter in duration and this will only improve with time. I am not disappointed with SL, because I had and have realistic expectations.

SL= Starlink
Beta = Normally a period of rollout of a product, limited in scope, and limited to a small group
Kit = Basic dish and wireless router with basic stand w/75’ cable

The below image shows my service last night from 4 to 9 pm approx

(PLEASE do ask questions and add comments - I have no direct line to Elon and I am no fan-boi, but misinformation is a bad thing for all of us... that said, *I* am not anyone idea of God's gift to Internet, so I could have made some errors or mis-statements - a few mintues after I post this, this text will be locked an will not be able to be changed, so please read the entire thread for corrections etc)


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Thanks for the write up RvNaut! I am glad it's a future option in case I need it. I still don't agree with the "RV plan" costing more for a lower priority though :)
I see your point, but it is not like they invented throttling just for RVs. It was in place before this marketing effort, and is something all users will face *if* they choose to take their system outside their home area. Everyone who roams from their home are gets throttled, it has nothing to do with it being an RV plan. I am not on the Rv Plan and I get throttled because my "home area" is Quartzsite. I may as well be at a summer camp, or a temp job site. Me being in an RV is irrelevant to me being throttled.

That said... I don't think anyone at Starlink had enough imagination to see how some would adapt and use their product. I think they thought that 99% of usage would be fixed locations in rural areas.

That said... Once the network is fully deployed, I suspect they will bump everyone to $135 and remove any limiting. Once the network is more complete I do not think there will be any need to throttle and there will be ample bandwidth just kicking about waiting for traffic...

Right now fiber is available at half the cost of Starlink in many metro areas, so while there will be SL usage in densely pop'd areas, it will not be an issue as other alternatives like fiber are so much cheaper.

What I would wish for is that once fully developed the cost will come down, but I think that is totally unrealistic.
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Once the network is fully deployed, I suspect they will bump everyone to $135 and remove any limiting. Once the network is more complete I do not think there will be any need to throttle and there will be ample bandwidth just kicking about waiting for traffic...
I wouldn't mind the extra cost if there was no deprioritization. I get that it is an expensive endeavor, and I do hope it succeeds and flourishes.
What I would wish for is that once fully developed the cost will come down, but I think that is totally unrealistic.
That would be nice. It's too bad that those that started at $99/month didn't get grandfathered in at that price at least for a while.
I very much thank you for the time you have taken to write about your Starlink experience. If you find that you need to make any corrections or updates to your article, just let me know, we can probably make that happen!

I enjoy my's fast. Most of the time anyway. Mine has a few daily drop-outs about the same time every evening....I assume it's a technical issue, but otherwise I'm happy with it.

One note regarding the snow-melt setting. It does use about double the power, around 100 to about 140 watts, trying to melt snow. It works on fairly light snowfalls, but at least with mine, the heaters could not cope with a heavy wet snow. So I just manually brush the snow off the dish, and I have turned off the snow melter. Works for me!

If only I could keep the birds from perching on the edge of Dishy and pooping on it...

I had NomadInternet at first and hated it. Only worked half the time. Kept sending me modems and sim cards and never crediting me for the time I paid for and it didn't work. Four months with Starlink and no issues and couldn't be happier. I'm at my service address in Maine right now so no issues at all. Couldnt be about those birds...
I got SL last month and used it at home successfully. As the OP says there are drops and it doesn't like trees but those things will get a lot better as more sats go into service. I am on a road trip now and used it while at my Dad's in Eastern Washington and I'm using it now in Bishop, CA. Just did a speed test 168Mbs down and 4Mbs up. This is good enough for zoom calls and gives me a lot more freedom on where I can go and where I can work from. The price is a non-issue when it's the difference between working and not. I am not an Elon fan to the extent that if there was a suitable option, I would do that instead, but SL is cool and better than all the alternatives unless you want to park under trees. Ofc parking under trees would block my solar...
I've been using Starlink in the Northeast since the beta came out (first 50K users). Everything RVNaut says is spot on. I am on a home plan but will be adding or switching to the "van plan".

More random info that may or may not be useful:

In the early days, there were a ton of dropouts as they fiddled with the network. The speeds stabilized after a while at around 100 during rush hour and 200+ other times. Now I'm seeing 30ish during rush hour and 100+ other times maybe the 200+ at 3AM. The big drop in speed came when they launched the new smaller square dishes.

Elon has said that Starlink V2 satellites are ready and will require their Starship rocket to carry them up. The good news is that they can handle 10X the bandwidth of the current version satellites. The FAA just gave them permission to try for an orbital launch....hopefully the perfect that system which will improve Starlink speeds for everyone.

As for deprioritization for RV users I don't think you would notice that when surfing or streaming video (maybe a video quality downgrade). If you need to upload large video files I do think you're gonna see an impact there. The workaround is to just wait until late at night to upload.

Operation in trees is tough. I live in a tiny house in the middle of the woods and I had to install the dish 175ft away. You will get *some* service even in trees but it will come and go.

I witnessed the firmware change that let the dish preemptively switch satellites when it knew it was flying behind a tree. It was a pretty cool bit of software IMO. In the northern latitudes, this will be more effective than in the southern ones.

As a software engineer I suffered with a 2/1 DSL connection for 9 years then Starlink came along and I was like the monkeys in 2001...and its game-changing. Don't let negative reviews prevent you from getting one. Check with other SL users in your area to get boots on the ground info.
With the recent increase in speculation about extraterrestrials visiting our skies, I think I'll wait. Logically, one of their early steps in making contact with us Earthers should be giving us some sort of quantum telecommunications system for free. Lagless, unlimited, unthrottled internet with uploads-downloads at the speed of thought regardless of environmental obstructions. And impervious to snow.
there is an audiobook that you should listen to.. good stuff..

About the birds, when living at the beach, we parked under the power line in a parking strip. Cars were a target for the birds. We erected a 20 foot tee pee near the parked cars with 6 foot colored ribbons from the exposed poles, alas no more birds, the ribbons scared em away.
For those in need of all the input they can muster about Star Link before making the jump into "the final frontier", Robin (Creativity RV) did a SL review a few days ago, going into many details:

The bottom line, she is not too thrilled about the RV option of SL.
You can listen to, or tune out the Nomad sales pitch, as it too is on the pricey side.

Put me in the holdout column, as I'll wait for the originally rumored price of $7 per month worldwide to be implemented! Factor in inflation and I suppose that should jump to $8 now. Haha! No, I won't be holding my breath, and for now Visible's very slow, but at least unlimited hotspot service will do me at $25/mo. Things would probably change if I needed a speedy service to run a business online, but I don't.
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Thanks for a real life review of SL! I need to figure out how much data i would normally use, but to be "out there" having SL would be awesome

Choosing SL is a factor of two things, How much data you need and/or how far out of cell range you expect to be and stay, and how important a connection the net on those bases are.

Good Luck!!!
Not digging Robin's "review". Seemed much more an ad for her service which is actually more expensive per month, albeit there is a difference in equipment cost. All that Starlink de-prioritization talk when she has no actual experience with how it actually affects service? Comments under the video by actual Starlink users were very complimentary in fact. Users of her service were not nearly as impressed with their experiences

How about the fact that she made no mention whatsoever that what she is promoting has terms of service stating that you can be de-prioritized, you can be throttled and you can be data-limited? It's all up to the service provider, you are at their mercy. Items 11, 12 and 13 at

I also did not appreciate the clickbait about having a "hack". The "hack" is requesting which provider you want after placing your order. They website already made it clear you can change providers.

I used to be a fan of hers, not so much anymore.
Usually if it sounds too good to be true, it turns out badly.
In the case of Starlink it certainly sounds good, but there are still minor operational technicalities that should get ironed out in time.

I'll let those Beta folks enjoy the current technology for the time being and look at it again 6 months or a year from now before pulling the trigger, or not, on the modest investment...